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Forget football – start your New Year with a hike at a Texas State Park

Pam LeBlanc

Forget lounging on the couch watching football games, some of us would rather get out and hike on New Year’s Day.

Dozens of Texas state parks are offering First Day Hikes to help you do that. A few are even offering Last Day or Midnight Hikes, so you can wrap up 2017 with a little stretch of the legs before flinging yourself. full force, into 2018.

Here’s a roundup of activities at nearby Texas State Parks. For a complete list of events, go here.

  • Blanco State Park – All ages and well-behaved dogs on leashes can participate in the 0.7-mile First Day Hike. Meet at 10 a.m. Jan. 1 at the Caswell Nature Trail trailhead. For more information go here.
  • Gorman Falls flows in a canyon at Colorado Bend State Park. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

  • Colorado Bend State Park – Meet at 10:15 a.m. Jan. 1 at the Gorman Trailhead for a 3-mile, intermediate hike along the Tie Slide Trail to Rusty’s Roost, an observation deck 200 feet above the Colorado River. For more information go here.
  • Lost Maples State Park – Choose from a short, family-oriented hike on the Maple Trail, or a 4.6-mile expedition on the East Trail, with stops at scenic overlooks. Meet at 10 a.m. Jan. 1 at the trailhead for the Maple Trail in the day use parking lot for either hike. For more information go here.
  • Inks Lake State Park – Wrap up 2017 with a 1.2-mile morning walk on the Lake Trail starting at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 31. For more information go here. Or start 2018 off the right way with a 2.5-mile easy to moderate walk. Meet at the Pecan Flats trailhead. After the hike, celebrate with hot cocoa, coffee, and snacks.
  • McKinney Falls State Park – Ring in the New Year with a midnight hike at the Lower Falls. The walk starts at 11 p.m. Dec. 31. For more information go here. On New Year’s Day, choose from two First Day hikes – a guided tour with history about the park and information about an ancient volcano, as told by a park ranger, or a rigorous, 6-mile primitive hike. For information about the easier hike, go here. For information about the primitive hike, go here.
  • People practice yoga on the top of Enchanted Rock at sunset in this file photo by Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

  • Enchanted Rock State Natural Area – Choose from a plethora of Jan. 1 hiking options at this huge granite dome north of Fredericksburg. Meet at the gazebo near the entrance to the Summit Trail for a 9 a.m. dog-friendly First Day Bark in the Park hike. All dogs must be on a 6-foot leash. For more information go here. A First Day Hike to Echo Canyon, the other side of the rock and Turkey Peak starts from the same meeting point at 9:30 a.m.. For more information go here. A late start hike starts at 2 p.m. For more information go here.
  • Buescher State Park — Learn about life in the Civilian Conservation Corps, which gave a jump start to the creation of many state parks, during the First Day Hike that at 10 a.m. Jan. 1. Meet at the Lakeview Pavilion. For more information go here.
  • Pedernales Falls State Park — Participants on this First Day Hike will walk to the river and explore the falls. Leashed dogs allowed. Meet at the Pedernales Falls trailhead at 9 a.m. For more information go here. The park will also host an easy, half-mile First Day Hike along the Twin Falls Nature Trail. That walk starts at 1 p.m. For more information go here.
  • Bastrop State Park — Learn how the Civilian Conservation Corps contributed to the creation of Bastrop State Park. Meet at 2 p.m. at the Refectory. For more information go here.